Veteran Israeli Journalist Apologizes for Calling Arabs ‘Savages’ and ‘Murderers’

Longtime media personality Yaron London issues an apology for his offensive ‘choice of language,’ but says he sees no reason to retract his statement

Yaron London
David Bachar

Longtime Israeli TV personality Yaron London sparked a storm of criticism Monday evening after saying that "Arabs are savages" during his show on public broadcaster Kan's Channel 11. He apologized on Tuesday for his remarks.

London made the statement during a discussion of the HBO drama "Our Boys" on his "London and Geula" program. The series is about the 2014 murder of Israeli yeshiva students Eyal Yifrah, Gil-Ad Shaer and Naftali Fraenkel by Palestinians, and the subsequent murder of an East Jerusalem Palestinian teen, Mohammed Abu Khdeir, by Jews.

"The Arabs are savages," London said. "They hate not only Jews. Above all, they're murdering one another. Right, left, forward, to the east, to the west, Arabs are slaughtering Arabs." Kan's management called London's comments "the unfortunate remark of a provocateur" and demanded an apology.

After London apologized, management said that it accepted it, but added that "there no place on public broadcasting for such comments."

"Many people, particularly our Arab viewers, were hurt by what I said," London stated in a press release on Tuesday. "During the night, I heard a recording of the program and found that I had tripped up in my language. My choice of language was improper and they have reason to be offended. I apologize for that."

In the press release, London said the discussion on his show related to why the creators of "Our Boys" purportedly took more of an interest in the Palestinian victim and his Jewish killers than the murder of the three yeshiva students. He noted that the Jewish public was surprised that Jews would be capable of committing such a crime against an Arab but not that Arabs would carry out such an act against Jews.

"I explained the different attitude toward the murderers from the two communities, in that the Jews perceive the Arabs as murderous savages. Looking at our geographic region, I said, confirms this perception. Of course, in saying 'the Arabs,' I didn't mean the individual Arab, but rather the leadership of Arab societies in neighboring countries."

London said he saw no reason to retract his statement since it relates to the leadership but acknowledged that it could also be interpreted as a sweeping generalization toward Arabs. "I deeply apologize for that and make it clear: God forbid that I should think that the Arabs are savages," he said.

During Monday's broadcast of "London and Geula," London told Haaretz columnist and show guest Gideon Levy, who took exception to the his comments, that "the Palestinians are no different. It's the culture."

Toward the end of the program, London said he had been informed that his remarks had prompted criticism on social media. "That's boring," he replied. "Don't do this."

Geula Even-Sa'ar, the program's co-host, was not on the show on Monday. Last week she took London to task on the air for sexually-related remarks that he made in recounting a conversation with the late television personality Dudu Topaz.

During a show in June, Even-Sa'ar chastised London on the air when he described how many years ago, in an elevator, he had touched a woman's breast after she patted him on the stomach without his consent. The management of Kan said at the time that it would investigate but took no disciplinary action against him.